What do Psychologists do?
Psychologists study human behavior, and they use their knowledge and experience to try to understand how people think and feel and what influences them as they act, learn, and experience their surroundings. Psychologists may also use therapy, learning strategies, and other interventions to help people who may have eating disorders, substance abuse issues, emotional disturbances, or mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. The employment outlook for psychologists is very good, with 11% growth projected and over 500 jobs expected within the next decade.
Psychologists Skills and Abilities
Psychologists must have a medical understanding of the human body, such as how to treat and diagnose injuries, diseases, and syndromes. This medical knowledge should include the ability to understand physical symptoms of physical, emotional, or mental illness, treatment options, and preventative care. Along with knowledge of the human body, psychologists need to understand human behavior, functioning, learning, and motivation in order to assess, diagnose, treat, or prevent behavioral and emotional disorders. These abilities require excellent reading, writing, critical thinking, listening, and communication skills.
Depending on their work setting and their experience level, psychologists have many duties that they are responsible for each day, such as:
- Assessing patients using in-person interviews, written patient histories, and standardized psychological tests
- Create and implement treatment methods and programs
- Diagnosing medical, behavioral, emotional, or mental health disorders following standardized diagnostic requirements
- Collaborate with colleagues and other professionals regarding program operation, therapeutic goals, and educational methods
- Counsel clients regarding their personal mental health requirements
- Keep detailed records regarding patient assessments, diagnoses, treatments, and treatment goals
- Mentor and act as an advisor to junior psychologists or psychology students
- Provide education, training, and counseling to patients and their families
- Read professional literature and attend psychiatric conferences to keep your skills and knowledge sharp
- Research, prepare, and write articles and papers regarding your psychiatric knowledge and innovations, and possibly present your papers to colleagues or at symposiums
Psychologists Tools and Technology
Psychologists need experience with a variety of tools in order to assess their patients and to conduct research and therapy effectively. Some of the tools psychologists may use in their therapies and practice are:
- Biofeedback devices
- Block pattern sets
- Cognitive evaluation equipment
- Muscle stimulation equipment
- Visual stimuli testsAs a psychologist, you will record patient histories, research diagnoses and therapies, and schedule your clients using a variety of technology such as:
- Electronic mail systems
- Internet software
- Accounting, calendar, and scheduling software
- Medical software
Education and Training for Psychologists
Psychologists must earn a doctoral or professional degree, which requires 4-6 additional years of schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree. Upon graduation, psychologists then work and train in a hospital, which is followed by up to three years of additional residency training in other settings. To earn your license as a psychologist, you will also need to pass a state-administered licensing exam. As a psychologist, you are expected to continue your training after graduation by earning continuing education credits each year, which can help to increase your occupational skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Psychologists can earn anywhere from $42,000 to $120,000 per year, but the average salary is around $92,000 across the nation. The salary for this position can vary so widely because of a variety of factors, such as education and experience level, whether you work in private or public practice, and the state in which you live.
Psychologists Jobs by Geography
The employment trend for psychologists is growing most rapidly in Florida, Oregon, and Utah, where the need for licensed psychologists is projected to grow at least 24% for each state. The states with the highest wages for psychiatrists are Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and California, where you can earn over $100,000 per year.